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Mac it up
Updates to a childhood staple

Photos by Matt Haas

May 2016

It’s a pretty basic dish — just cheese, cream and pasta — but that old childhood staple takes on new flavor combinations when in the hands of talented chefs.

So Refined: Balzac

Forget the kiddie menu. Balzac’s signature sac mac is for adults. A five-cheese sauce is crowned with toasted panko and crumbled blue cheese. Add in bacon, capicollo ham or Brussels sprouts for more savory goodness. Pair this gourmet dish with an equally grown-up glass of wine — there are more than 20 to choose from by the glass. 1716 N. Arlington Place, (414) 755-0099,


East Side Comfort: Comet Café

Life doesn’t get better than this creamy mac, especially when it’s covered with more gooey cheese and ham and peas are mixed in. If ham and peas aren’t to your liking, add in chili, beef or bacon. Mmm! 1947 N. Farwell Ave., (414) 273-7677,


The Hipster: Café Centraal

When Café Centraal first opened in 2008, Bay View was just evolving into the hipster neighborhood it is today. We can’t say Centraal’s mac and cheese staple caused Bay View to gain its reputation as "the Brooklyn of Wisconsin," but those delicate cavatappi pasta twirled with creamy goat cheese sauce laced with just a touch of rosemary had to have helped. Sip a perfectly paired Petrus aged pale ale while you’re noshing. 2306 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., (414) 755-0378,


Fishy, Fishy: Revere’s Tavern

Lobster mac? Eh, that’s passé. Instead, try the baked mac with salmon at Revere’s Tavern. Parmesan, feta and cheddar jack cheeses meld together with the fresh fish and toasted breadcrumbs. Yum. If that’s not enough, top it with bacon too. 505 Wells St., Delafield, (262) 646-4070,


The Creative: Triskele’s

Know what you want? Like to play in the kitchen? Let the chefs at Triskele’s play for you, with its build-your-own mac. Start with either regular or gluten-free pasta, then pick your dairy: aged cheddar, goat cheese, Gorgonzola or all three, and then, finally add chicken or andouille sausage. We say go for sausage. 1801 S. Third St., (414) 837-5950,




This story ran in the April 2016 issue of: